Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 09-11-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | SEPTEMBER 11-17, 2019 IN OUR SCHOOLS 17 Rhode Island train teachers in proven methods. The Breeze posed the fol- lowing statement and ques- tion to Sanzi, posting a link to a previ- ous spring- time Breeze story about the suc- cess of the American Reading Company program incorporated in Pawtucket last year: "Boiled down, it seems to center on a mod- ern disdain for traditional phonics and memorizing rules," stated the tweet to Sanzi. "It appears aspects of this program might be what they're referring to as the wrong way." "Exactly," she responded. "Children learn to read very differently than they learn to speak." Just adding reading to the day won't help most struggling read- ers/dyslexic children and English language learners who need to decode to be able to read, she said, adding that Commissioner Infante-Green is very knowledgeable about the topic. Infante-Green then liked Sanzi's tweet, prompting The Breeze to ask Pawtucket school officials about whether she's expressed concern about their pro- gram. School officials said they haven't heard from Infante-Green on the program, and haven't approached her. A spokeswoman for Infante-Green said this week that the commissioner was responding to the sec- ond part of Sanzi's state- ment that children learn to read differently and just adding reading to the day won't help most struggling readers. "She was not making a value judgment on any specific curricula, and in fact, ARC (American Reading Company) is rated as a high-quality program by EdReports, a national, independent nonprofit the state has been working with to support districts with curriculum selection," said Meg Geoghegan. Interim Pawtucket Supt. Cheryl McWilliams noted that the ARC read- ing program is listed in green by EdReports, a nonprofit organization pro- moted by the Rhode Island Department of Education. School Committee Chairman Jay Charbonneau said he's heard nothing negative about the ARC program either from inside the district or outside. The district invested a lot of money in the program and there was a lot of public and open discussion about the adoption of it last year, with no one from RIDE ever expressing concerns, said Charbonneau. Neither McWilliams nor Charbonneau have approached Infante-Green about her thoughts on the program. "You can't take a cookie- cutter approach in every district, particularly in a district as diverse as this one," with upward of 9,000 students, Charbonneau said. The Breeze reported in April that Pawtucket's new ARC reading program was paying off in a big way, according to local school administrators. At the time, then-Supt. Patti DiCenso spoke of how it was replac- ing an earlier program featuring a heavy focus on phonics but lacking an emphasis on authentic read- ing comprehension. "Substandard programs at this level set the entire system up for failure as children are falling behind starting in kindergarten," said DiCenso. The program, for students in grades K-2, helped the district achieve significant gains in reading compre- hension, including nearly doubling in its first year the number of students consid- ered actively engaged in reading, at 63 percent. McWilliams last week noted that the state last year brought in David Liben, of Student Achievement Partners, to speak to curriculum direc- tors on high-quality cur- riculum, including why a structured phonics program such as the one employed by ARC is effective. "Numerous research findings have suggested that too few children are acquiring the decoding and fluent reading skills neces- sary to become competent readers," stated a report by Liben. "We propose that one reason for these poor outcomes is the preponder- ance of initial reading pro- grams that fail to provide students with adequate pho- nics knowledge." His paper made the case that structured phonics is the most effective reading curriculum "for ensuring students acquire knowl- edge of the letter-sound correspondences that are fundamental to becoming successful readers." According to Liben, a structured phonics program teaches students to apply knowledge to decode and spell words. When learners do this a few times for a given pattern, the spellings of individual words become glued in memory to their pronunciations and mean- ings. On Sunday, Sanzi put out a tweet seeking more feed- back from literacy experts on Pawtucket's reading program, saying some of the quotes in the previous Breeze story put up flags for her. Expert Karen Vaites said Pawtucket is doing stellar work under Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction Jennifer Carney, and the ARC cur- riculum is a strong one designed around reading research, the only program to earn all green check- marks with EdReports. A representative from American Reading then tweeted that the company is proud to offer the only curriculum earning all green reviews. Sanzi then thanked every- one who contributed to the discussion, saying the feedback from a network of literacy professionals is very helpful for those who aren't experts in the area but are looking to become more knowledgeable. She later told The Breeze it turns out that she was wrong to be concerned and Infante- Green was right. "For a program to be 'all green' is pretty awesome," she said. READING From Page One SANZI Brand New Townhouses in Pawtucket! Now leasing for October through December occupancy, brand new 2 and 3 bedroom townhomes. 2 bed. 1.5 bath 1020 sq. ft. $1107 3 bed. 1.5 bath 962-1150 sq. ft. $1278 Apartment Features Maple Espresso Cabinets • Faux Quartz Counters • Vinyl Plank Flooring • Neutral Two Tone Paint Community Amenities New Playground with Splash Pad • Professional On-Site Management Team 24 Hour Emergency Maintenance • Updated Community Center with Kitchenette and Youth Lounge Rent includes heat, hot water and electricity! Section 8 Welcome, Income restrictions apply. Contact the leasing office for more details. Prospect Heights 560 Prospect St., Pawtucket, RI 02860 • 401-214-5340

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